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Comelec sets rules for source code review

Religious groups and those receiving financial assistance from foreign governments or organizations will not be allowed to review the source codes of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and the consolidation/canvassing system (CCS) for the May polls, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). In Resolution No. 9651 issued last Friday, March 1, the Comelec determined the parameters for the groups and their personnel who are eligible to review the source codes, which are human readable instructions or software. According to the resolution, eligible political parties or groups that can conduct a source code review must be:
  • Political, sectoral, or coalition of parties registered and/or accredited by the Comelec
  • Independent candidates running for a nationwide national position
  • Any legitimate organization or group accredited by the Comelec, including its accredited citizens’ arms, which possess the technical capability and expertise in conducting the source code review
On the other hand, the following will not be allowed to conduct the review:
  • Any religious sect or denomination, organization, or association, organized for religious purposes
  • Any foreign party or organization
  • Any group or organization that is receiving money or other forms of financial support from any foreign government, political party, foundation or organization, whether directly or through any of its officers or members, or indirectly through third parties
The Comelec said interested groups must signify in writing their interest to do the review for approval of the poll body and submit the credentials of their reviewers. The source code reviewers must have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree related to information technology, as well as have at least two related publications or five years experience in computer systems development specializing in computer systems security. The Comelec also listed separate qualifications for reviewers of the PCOS and the CCS. Among other provisions in the resolution, the poll body declared that approved entities shall sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed to do the source code review. The review will be done in a secure and enclosed location that will have video and audio recording capabilities, and where the source code cannot be taken out whether physically or electronically, the resolution stated. The resolution also said electronic devices such as, but not limited to, laptops, mobile phones, cameras, USB drives and other storage devices cannot be brought into the location. — Gian C. Geronimo/KBK, GMA New